Rev Pro British J Cup N1
September 8 2018
We’re in Manchester at the Bowlers Exhibition Centre. Hosts are Kevin Kelly and Andy Boy Simmonz. This isn’t a venue I particularly like. It’s bad for crowd noise, for whatever reason, and it’s in the middle of nowhere. This was part of MediaCon so the likes of Dave Meltzer were in attendance.
Jushin Liger vs. Kyle Fletcher
Liger is defending the title, having won the BJ Cup in 2017.
Kyle Fletcher looks huge standing next to Liger and the Japanese legend implied afterwards that Fletcher is built like a heavyweight. Liger comes in with a bad wheel, which becomes the focal point of the match. Liger can sell a bad leg like a goddamn champ. I forget which BOSJ it was but he spent the whole thing with an injury and the selling was amazing. I almost feel bad for Liger as he has to take Fletcher’s senton to the floor. He’s in his 50s Kyle, respect your elders! With the focus on Liger’s injury and the difference in size the match doesn’t hit a high gear and Liger’s legendary status is what the match leans on. I wouldn’t feel bad for Kyle Fletcher as he has gotten to wrestle Tanahashi and Liger in the same year and is clearly on New Japan’s radar at 19 years old. Brainbuster puts him away but although Liger’s hand is raised there’s only one winner here.
Final Rating: **1/2
El Phantasmo vs. Bandido
Bandido has come out of nowhere globally. Obviously he’s been doing good work in lucha for years but now he’s exploded onto the Indies he’s captured people’s imagination pretty quickly. ELP has a balancing gimmick, which he plays off and the wrestling is all beautifully smooth. ELP took a while to get adjusted to wrestling in the UK but he’s certainly into the upper echelons now. While it is smooth there’s not the chemistry you would hope for. Maybe the language barrier eliminates the more ambitious natures of both men. The match is not without flips but the pacing isn’t as energetic as I was hoping for. Then they start randomly hitting Canadian Destroyers. It’s a very odd match. Most of the high spots connect but the bits in between are extremely patchy. ELP wins with his senton followed by moonsault from the other side.
Final Rating: ***
Kip Sabian vs. Rocky Romero
This was supposed to be Kurtis Chapman but he got injured the day beforehand.
Rotten luck for him but a huge opportunity for Kip…to lose to Romero in the first round. Kip can hang with Romero but opts for working heat on top of that. The crowd is quiet and the match is uninspired. The trouble with Rev Pro is when they’ve got no story and they don’t have the crowd interest there’s nothing to fall back on. At least at Progress or OTT the crowd just amuse themselves. I had friends at this show who said it was flat but on tape its so insipid. It becomes apparent this crowd want to see the hits and Forever Clotheslines is the only thing that gets a reaction. Shiranui puts Rocky over and this was ok.
Final Rating: **1/4
Dean Allmark vs. SHO
This is an inspired booking decision. Allmark is one of Britain’s best kept secrets.
He wrestles all the time but doesn’t appear on the more globally popular shows (Rev Pro, Progress etc). Maybe it’s his Northern roots, with Southern wrestling being so much more popular right now, or maybe its his body shape. However you look at him his technical wrestling is absolutely beautiful. Allmark brings so many old fashioned British Wrestling staples that SHO looks bemused. Like he’s competing in an entirely different sport. The crowd wake up here with Dean leading SHO in a series of one-counts. Dean does occasionally attempt something overly flashy and it doesn’t come off. That’s the only downside to this one. SHO is a great prospect. He’s the heir apparent to KUSHIDA’s junior technician crown. Dean wrestles circles around him here. So it’s probably for the best that SHO has that range. The ropes and the power too. Shock Arrow puts Dean away and this was easily the best match on the show to this point.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Mark Davis vs. “The Dominator” Great O-Kharn
Oka is now paired up with Gideon Grey for heat purposes. Oka looks like a drunk zombie on his way to the ring.
Dunkzilla is all ‘what the fuck is this?’ What it should be is a challenge for Oka who’s steamrollered everyone so far. In Rev Pro he’s 14-0. Rather typically in his only non-Rev Pro UK match he lost to Rob Lynch. For fuck’s sake IPW, don’t you understand the concept of narrative? His biggest win is over Shane Strickland but Mark Davis would be up close to that thanks to his strong rep in the UK. Oka plays this like an old-fashioned heel and like most of his Rev Pro matches its not very good. Davis is far better than he’s allowed to be here. Exploding on offence after mediocre spells of O-Kharn dominance. He’s dropped weight recently and looks better for it. He’s not lost anything in the strikes and power but his movement is more fluid and his dive looks great. When Oka gives up on the character and trades with Davis the match threatens to get good. The biggest issue Oka has is that the gimmick is bad and all the gimmicky stuff sucks. He’s not a bad wrestler by any means. O-Kharn hits a nut shot and a bunch of power moves to win. 15-0.
Final Rating: **1/2
The best thing about O-Kharn is his whole shtick where he pretends not to be able to hear dissenting fans or even see them. That shtick I could watch all day long.
David Starr vs. Tiger Mask IV
Starr is aware of TM’s limitations so makes this a storyline match where he’s a dick.
That’s the route they go. It’s a pity as Starr has the better offence. They manage to work in a ref bump and I pretty much hate this match. TM gets two visual pins while Shay is lying in the corner. Starr then pulls TM’s mask off and pins him using the ropes. Holy shit, haha. That was a cornucopia of old school wrestling tropes. I kind of appreciate the love of the history of the biz but almost any match that has a ref bump in tends to grate me the wrong way.
Final Rating: **
Chris Ridgeway vs. KUSHIDA
2018 is turning into a banner year for Riddy.
Next in his progression is KUSHIDA, which should be a delight as they’re both cut from the same cloth. Both keen on the technical stuff. Both competent in shoot style. Both like a strike. However KUSHIDA has been here before. Over in the UK, thrown in with Zack Sabre Jr (another stand-out technician) and the result was underwhelming. Sadly the same is true again here. It’s very technically solid but that’s about it. It almost feels like they didn’t plan anything and just went out and wrestled, which is admirable certainly. The repeated attempted armbars, countered into attempted armbars is pretty awesome. Ridgeway acquits himself well against one of the best technicians in the business. The finish is a little tame. Ridgeway taking the Tajiri Buzzsaw Kick before being downed by Back to the Future. Good outing for Ridgeway.
Final Rating: ***1/2
YOH vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
I love Andy Boy’s queries here of Kevin Kelly. “Tell everyone at home who may not be familiar” = I’ve never seen this man wrestle in my life, help. Gooch does a lot of comedy here. First getting blown up running the ropes then rolling out of the ring repeatedly. He’s basically here to piss about, which I’m fine with. Taguchi not taking the match seriously allows YOH to work off his shtick and they can have a decent match without killing each other. Taguchi takes this so easily he doesn’t even get up on a random ten count. You can here the mental “huh” from everyone in the building.
Final Rating: *3/4
Flamita vs. Rich Swann
Swann is in the process of rebuilding his career after a dodgy WWE run. His issues outside of the ring almost causing an early retirement. Which would have been a shame as he is very talented.
I saw Swann during his last Rev Pro run back in 2014. He certainly looked like a talent there and he’s not lost anything during that ill-fated WWE run. Flamita tends to err on the side of caution when facing an opponent who can’t speak Spanish. He tends to resort to a lot of rest holds. Considering this is the final first round match you’d think they’d go all out but its not the main event so the action is tempered. The bursts of offence connected with rest holds to consider the next sequence.
When they are giving it welly the sequences are terrific and I wouldn’t begrudge anyone thinking this was the best match on the show. Swann survives a 450 Splash and later hits his own to advance. This was the flashiest of the first round matches, that’s for sure, but a lot of the early stuff was stop-start for no reason.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Ringkampf vs. CCK (Chris Brookes & Jonathan Gresham)
When this match was booked I almost bought a ticket to this show because I was so excited by the prospect.
Both these teams are prime examples of how beautifully European wrestling can blend with American wrestling. WALTER’s power and presence may be unrivalled anywhere in wrestling but certainly in the UK scene. Brookes has gone up against him before in Rev Pro and came up short. You can see the intimidation factor as soon as WALTER is in there.
— Arn (@ArnoldFurious) September 21, 2018
Gresham runs through an array of tactics to try and discombobulate WALTER but the most success he gets is with a punch to the cock and he certainly pays for that. The match slightly suffers from an unenthusiastic crowd, which has been an issue all night. Credit to all the wrestlers though. They set about their business and do some good stuff. There’s no weak link here. Gresham does a great job on the size difference stuff, especially with WALTER and Brookes subtle selling of fear is a highlight. Thatcher, as always, is a consummate pro, going where he needs to and being as intimidating as he needs to be. If there’s a wrestler in the business today who knows his role it’s Tim Thatcher.
I love that Gresham basically tells Brookes “I’ll handle WALTER”. Down the stretch they do a lot of innovative false finishes and my favourite is WALTER breaking up an Octopus Stretch by powerbombing Gresham onto it. Gresham shows some marvellous fire and anyone standing up to WALTER is impressive but the size difference makes it amplified here. Brookes capitalises on WALTER’s bemusement and Brookes gets the roll up with a handful of tights to get the upset win. Brookes may fancy his chances in a singles match in the future. Baby steps. This was the best thing on the show. Gresham was great, again.
Final Rating: ****
This was a very sluggish show and a tough watch. It took me four attempts to get through it. The tournament matches felt uninspired and while the contests should have been good (SHO/Allmark and KUSHIDA/Ridgeway especially) nothing really grabbed my attention. Some of it was downright mediocre and a lot of the Japanese guys barely turned up. Watch the main but nothing else is essential.